Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal

In Victoria’s Alpine Valley shire, Alpine Radio is a vital and much-loved way for the community to stay safe and connected. It’s run by Kiewa Valley Community Radio Association Inc, a not-for-profit community radio station located in Mount Beauty in north-east Victoria.

Alpine Radio broadcasts local information into the Kiewa and Ovens Valleys and Harrietville about events and activities, along with music programs and local interviews. It is also an official Emergency Services broadcaster for the region.

Like many of the organisations that responded to our 2021 Heartbeat of Rural Australia study, the station receives most of its funding from local businesses and benefactors. However, the downturn in tourism following the 2020 fires resulted in a loss of income by local businesses, which was further exacerbated by the pandemic. This meant that several of the station’s supporters stopped their contributions entirely or suspended their payments. 

In a bid to regain sponsors and attract new ones, Alpine Radio used a $6,000 grant from the News Corp Bushfire Recovery Fund, managed by FRRR, to bring in external expertise. A Sponsorship and Marketing Manager was engaged part-time for six months to keep in touch with current sponsors during the lockdowns. If they couldn’t pay their sponsorship fees because of the downturn in income, the business continued to be mentioned on air (free of charge) or was suspended until the business could reopen. The radio station also contacted many of the local businesses that were not necessarily sponsors but were changing their business model to offer takeaway meals and drinks, and they broadcast these changes to the listening public for free.

This strategy created a lot of goodwill within the community and, as a result, Alpine Radio signed up several new sponsors once businesses were able to open up and start getting regular income again. Previous supporters also came back on board too.

The grant helped bring financial stability to the station, which in turn enabled them to continue to employ a paid station manager. This means that Alpine Radio can continue to deliver local communications, media and play a critical role during emergencies.

The station’s President, Nicholas Brown, said that the goodwill created across the Kiewa and Ovens Valleys is what they were most proud of.